Arrow: Beacon of Hope

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Well, THAT rescue went well…

On “Beacon of Hope,” the Arrow writers bring back Bree Larvin, last seen as a bad girl over on Flash. She’s just as smart as she was before, and manages to use her computer skills to hack her way into early release. Really, who let the genius hacker have computer time? That was a bad decision.

In the lair, Oliver is handling the break up with Felicity about as well as I’d expect. He is training the team, although it mostly seems to be an excuse to kick all their asses. They are all talented fighters, but Oliver is taking them all on and winning handily. I don’t know if that’s Oliver being rage-driven, the others taking it a bit easy on him, or some combination. Either way, Oliver is back into serious dark and brooding mode.  They do lighten it up a bit with a joke about Harry Potter that shows the holes in Oliver’s general knowledge from his time on the island and his obsessions since.

Felicity isn’t sitting around moping about the end of the engagement (or beating up on her friends). She and Curtis are talking about the chip that let her walk again. On the one hand, it’s working perfectly for her, which is great. On the other, it’s ridiculously expensive, so there’s no way the company will be able to market it to the people that need it most. Thea drops by, trying to get a job for Alex, her sort of boyfriend and Oliver’s former campaign manager. Felicity’s mother, Donna, is there too, trying to cheer Felicity up.

Back at Iron Heights, Damian Darhk is really displeased about still being in jail. Malcolm drops by, apparently able to come and go from this high-security facility at will. They argue about HIVE, the mysterious Genesis project, and the lack of interest HIVE has in freeing Damian. The argument gets worse, demonstrating that Damian still hasn’t gotten his powers back and that Malcolm is a smartass.

Felicity’s day at work is going to get much worse. The board meeting wasn’t something she was looking forward to. The sudden appearance of Bree, the Bug Eyed Bandit, taking the board hostage, just makes things uglier. And you thought your dat at work was bad.  Her ransom demand? The chip Holt designed, the only working prototype of which is currently in Felicity’s spine.

Bree’s mechanical bee swarm surrounds the PalmerTech building, keeping everyone out. It makes the news, watched by Curtis Holt at home, sick, as well as Oliver, Laurel, and Captain Lance in the lair. Improbably, Holt finds his way into the lair, leading Lance to ask, “So, can anyone just walk in here?” much like the recurring problem at STAR Labs.

After a short scene showing how much Damian is enjoying his life behind bars, and another with Donna, Felicity, and Thea creeping around the PalmerTech building, we get back to the lair. Holt is seriously fanboying out over being there, and calls it the Arrow Cave. A somewhat annoyed Oliver corrects him that they call it the Bunker, which I don’t think I remember hearing before. They are trying to figure out how to get into the Palmer building, and figure out the bees aren’t the real thing. Lance, who gets a lot of great lines in this episode, shakes his head and remarks, “That is an army of robotic bees…, yeah, that’s my life now.” Holt ends up helping the team, taking over the role recently vacated by Felicity.

True to the often used form on the show, the heroes’ first attempt goes badly. Curtis manages to hack some of the bees, but they can’t get inside, and Oliver gets stung, to put it mildly. The bee swarm forms a humanoid shape to give the heroes something to hit, I guess. Donna calls it a Bee Man, prompting Felicity to whisper to Thea that, “This is why we leave the nicknames to Cisco.”

The heroes retreat to the lair where they examine Oliver. Being stung is the least of his problems, and the issue is fairly gruesome. They eventually cobble together a way to deal with the problem, making use of Holt’s genius and Black Canary’s sonic scream, which is possibly the first time this series it’s actually been useful.

The writers do a decent job of remembering the show’s history. Team Arrow’s second base of operations was under the building. Felicity makes up a story about it being her panic room, and uses it to get the board, and Donna, to safety. Bree makes a half-hearted attempt to sound like an eco-terrorist instead of just another criminal genius.

There’s some melodrama back at the Lair/Bunker/Arrow Cave as Oliver snaps at Holt, jumping all over him for his enthusiasm. Laurel pulls Oliver aside for a pep-talk, giving Oliver a chance to babble about the only time he was happy in eight years being when he walked away from all this with Felicity and they lived in Ivy Town.

Damian Darhk is nothing if not adaptable. He manages to take control of a small group of prisoners by using some outside contacts. He’s back to his amusing, dramatic self. He also makes a reference to the town of Monument Point, which played an important part in a Justice Society story in the comics.

There are several more good lines as Felicity hacks into Bree’s computer controls. Felicity calls their situation Die Hard with Bees, which actually is pretty damn close to what’s happening. The rest of the team is making their own plan to take another shot at the bees, and, when Lance makes a reference to Independence Day, sees their surprised faces and asks, “What? I can’t watch movies?” The episode has a lot of good banter, but I think Captain Lance got the best lines, which was a nice change.

After a lot of improbable techno-babble and random action scenes, the good guys win. Felicity definitively says she is not coming back to the team, and is going to find another way to make a difference in the world. Oliver apologizes to Holt for snapping, and Holt goes home to apparently start his own career of lying to his loved ones about helping the heroes. The show ends with a set up for next episode that looks really bad for one of Team Arrow.

The writers then take a moment to do something really nice. Emily Rickards, the actress that plays Felicity, makes a pitch for the Reeve Foundation. Christopher Reeve played in my opinion the best movie version of Superman. Later, he was paralyzed in a horse riding accident and became an incredible activist for the disabled. I was glad to see them give the foundation some air time.

The increasingly irrelevant Flashback Theater shows Oliver and Diana struggling in the tunnels under Lian Yu. Reiter has found the idol he’s looking for (which looks really familiar) and has started to tap into its power. They used to tie these little scenes in to the main plot of the show, but the connection in getting increasingly tenuous in my opinion.

What I liked: The dialogue was great this episode. It was like the writers from iZombie came by for a visit. Captain Lance managed to get off several great lines. Holt’s fanboy freak-out in the Lair was great and very in character. It was good that they made creative use of the former headquarters to save the board. I was really pleased to see the pitch for the Reeve Foundation.

What I didn’t: There’s more and more bad melodrama on the show. Oliver is getting so dark and brooding that Batman is going to come by and say, “Dude, lighten up.” They really need to just drop Flashback Theater. I didn’t bother to mention it above, but at one point Green Arrow uses his snare arrow to tie Bree to a column, and, like every single other person he’s used it on, she wiggles free in moments. Really, why does he still use that one? Holt found his way into the lair way too easily.

I’m a little torn on this one. The overall plot wasn’t great, but the dialogue was wonderful. I guess I’ll go 3.5 out of 5. It looks like things are going to get ugly next episode.

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